Tweet of the day:
Chairman Finlayson to Green MP Russel Norman interrogating GCSB head Fletcher: You're a member of the committee not Judge Judy—
audrey young (@audreyNZH) December 03, 2013
Tweet of the day:
Chairman Finlayson to Green MP Russel Norman interrogating GCSB head Fletcher: You're a member of the committee not Judge Judy—
audrey young (@audreyNZH) December 03, 2013
No matter how rigorous selection processes are, political parties run a risk with candidates.
No matter how good their credentials are and how well they appear to fit what a party needs when they’re selected, there’s always a danger they won’t stick to the party script.
At best they might not campaign well enough to win votes and they might even lose them.
The danger of rogue candidates is particularly high in seats they’re unlikely to win because it can be harder to find people willing to stand in them unless there’s a good chance they could get list seats.
The risks are bad enough for bigger parties with good back up from MPs, experienced volunteers and the party machine.
They are even greater for wee parties where the talent pool is much shallower and MPs, volunteers and party machine are stretched much more thinly.
It appears that at least some in the Green Party weren’t happy with the way their candidate David Hay performed in 2011.
That could be fair enough – standing for parliament takes a fair bit of self-confidence and candidates’ opinions of themselves can sometimes be considerably higher than that of others.
What doesn’t seem fair, if his version of events is accurate, is the way the party handled the matter:
David Hay today revealed the reason for his leadership challenge, saying that Metiria Turei and Russel Norman had betrayed the core principles of the Green Party and should resign as co-leaders and MPs.
Outside the Green Party offices in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Hay gave journalists a print-out of emails that had passed between himself and Jon Field, the party’s General Secretary, following his interview for the candidate pool. A copy is attached to this release.
The emails reveal that Megan Salole, the Green Party’s 2011 Campaign Manager, had recommended in her secret post-campaign debrief report that Mr Hay should not be accepted into the candidate pool for the 2014 election.
Mr Hay said “I couldn’t believe the party would allow a recommendation like that to be made, without first raising concerns with the candidate directly and trying to resolve them. I made a formal complaint, which was properly investigated. The party has acknowledged that I was denied natural justice, and has apologised.”
“But this also raises serious questions about the party’s leadership. Metiria and Russel must have read that report, and must have known about the recommendation. At no time in the past two years have they, or anybody else, attempted to discuss their concerns with me and try to resolve any perceived problems.”
Two years is a very long time to let something like this fester.
“Metiria and Russel’s actions and omissions in this case have been contrary to the core principles of the Green Party charter principles of appropriate decision making and social justice, and the party’s values.”
“What also concerns me about this is the political risk they took and the folly of their actions. I these two, with others, set a trap for me two years ago and then sprung it during the candidate selection process. I can’t understand how they thought that was going to play out. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do.”
“I have completely lost confidence in Russel and Metiria’s ability to lead the Green Party. I no longer trust them or believe what they say. Neither should party members, or New Zealand voters. That is the real reason behind my leadership challenge” said Mr Hay.
“The Green Party is better than this” said Mr Hay. “We have many good, hard working, people in the party who uphold its principles and values. We don’t need these two any more. It is time for them to go.”
This tweet raises a good question about that:
That question aside, the party prides itself on its democratic processes and transparency.
If this version of events is true that’s an idle boast.
If it’s not, it shows the risk parties run with disaffected former candidates.
Electoral law requires parties to use democratic processes in selecting candidates.
Whether Labour’s policy of a female quota for its caucus is a moot point.
So too is the way the Green party is dealing with David Hay who announced he’s challenging co-leader Russel Norman:
The man who challenged Green Party co-leader Russel Norman for the leadership believes the party is trying to kick him off the list.
David Hay says the party’s Candidate Selection and Electoral Process Committee (CSPEC) has recommended to the party’s executive committee that he shouldn’t be in the candidate pool next year.
“I don’t know exactly why the CSEPC made its negative recommendation, but if the party executive accepts it, that would prevent me from being ranked on the party list and therefore from becoming a Green MP next year.”
Mr Hay has been refused a copy of the committee’s report to the executive.
The executive had a tele-conference on October 22, but could not make a decision on his candidacy, Mr Hays says.
“The vote was split 3-6 with some abstentions. Under party rules a 75 percent majority is required for a decision. I have asked executive to make a final decision tomorrow, by simple majority if necessary. I do not intend to appeal it.”. . .
Parties must have the right to determine whether or not someone is suitable to be a candidate but they must use democratic processes to do so.
Even if the man whose candidacy is under question gives permission, is going against the party’s rule requiring a 75% majority for the decision democratic?
A majority of Labour’s caucus didn’t give David Cunliffe their first preferences in the leadership vote.
The difference in views on mineral exploration isn’t the only one in the party and now there’s another sign of instability on the left:
Green Party member David Hay is challenging Russel Norman for the co-leadership of the party.
Mr Hay, 52, ran as the Green Party candidate for Epsom in the 2011 general election and is currently ranked number 16 on the party list.
While he thinks Dr Norman has been doing a “great job”, Mr Hay says he wants to put the current leadership team “to the test”.
“At this stage, I’m testing to see whether there is support within the party for change,” he said. . .
“I want to put Russel’s leadership to the test: if he wins out, then he will lead the party into government with a renewed mandate.
. . . Green Party leadership positions are decided by a vote of the delegates at the Annual General Meeting.
This will be held on Queens Birthday weekend in Wellington next year.
The poor return on assets which Landcorp produces each year raises the question of why the government is in the business of farming.
But there is a point to it as Bill English explained in answer to a question from Russel Norman:
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government is actually selling bits of Landcorp all the time. The member may not be aware of it but the point of Landcorp was to preserve lands and survey farms for the purposes of Treaty settlements. As Treaty settlements are executed, the Government is involved in selling bunches of five, six farms. I know that offends the Greens deeply because they think the Government should own all the farms and then shut them down, but, actually, we want to get on with Treaty settlements. Landcorp is buying and leasing farms as well.
The ability to use Landcorp farms in Treaty settlements is a strong argument for the company to continue as an SOE in the short to medium term.
Once Treaty settlements are completed it will be difficult to justify Landcorp’s continued state ownership.
The best plan would be for the farms to be gradually sold and the management arm could probably be sold off separately.
However, National has no plans to sell the company and has made it quite clear that any sale of any share of an SOE would be announced well in advance to allow the public to take that into consideration when voting.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, what is true is that when the National Party sets out to execute a policy that is challenging for the public, we make it quite transparent what we are going to do if we are elected, and we give the voters the chance to cast their votes knowing that those policies have been proposed. I would invite that member to set out just as transparently, and in detail before the election, the impact of his climate change policy on household costs so that voters have the chance to look at that.
We’d all be better able to cast intelligent votes if all parties were clear about the costs of their policies long before we cast our votes.
The Opposition is trying to pressure the government over the referendum on the partial sale of a few state owned assets.
This exchange in Question Time yesterday shows they’re making no traction at all:
1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Will the results of the state-owned assets referendum in any way influence his Government’s policy to sell State assets; if so, how?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): No.
. . . Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Maybe the way to—[Interruption] Let me relive your past so that you can enjoy it, because we are certainly going to enjoy it on this side. Let us put it another way. This is not the first time, actually, that New Zealanders have heard about the mixed-ownership programme— no. During the 2011 election campaign, Phil Goff described the election as a referendum on asset sales. Russel Norman described the ownership and use of State assets as having become “the defining issue of the election”. The Mana Party said that a vote for National was a vote for asset sales. Well, guess what? We campaigned on it the whole way through, and we won with the largest result in National’s history under MMP and the largest result of any political party under MMP, and Labour got the worst result—
. . . Hon David Cunliffe: Given that more New Zealanders at the last election voted for parties that were opposed to the Government’s assets sales programme, and given that over 327,000 New Zealanders signed the anti – asset sales petition, does he agree that there is unease amongst New Zealanders over his policy?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The election campaign in 2011 was dominated by this issue of the mixedownership model. National won that election with a comprehensive majority in any terms. This Parliament has faced on numerous occasions referendums for which there has been significant public opposition, and we do not even know, by the way, what the result of this referendum will be. But the most recent one was when 87.4 percent of New Zealanders opposed the smacking legislation. That was a policy pushed by Helen Clark, the Greens, and a Labour Government, and all that we can say is that Labour arrogantly ignored it. So when Labour members are in Government they just ignore things, and when they are in Opposition they roar like little tigers or lions, or whatever else it is over there that they do.
Hon David Cunliffe: Given that the Prime Minister’s wafer-thin majority looks like it is going to be hanging from the coat-tails of “Crazy Colin Craig”, who believes in binding referendums, does he propose to ignore the results of the next referendum, just like he has ignored and arrogantly refused all the others?
Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the right honourable Prime Minister.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am prepared to accept that I have got a narrow majority in Parliament, relatively speaking—it is 64 votes. But that is way better than David Cunliffe, who does not even have a majority in his own caucus.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister looking forward to receiving his ballot papers in the mail next week so that he can voice his view, albeit the view of a small minority, in favour of asset sales in the referendum?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, the member is prejudging the outcome, but what I will be saying when I receive my ballot papers through the mailbox is: “What a waste of $9 million of taxpayers’ money, which the Green Party could have seen spent on vulnerable kids or for a million other good reasons in the Parliament.” Secondly, I will say to myself: “Man, it was amazing the way that they tried to con the New Zealand public that they had signatures they did not have.”, and I will say to myself: “It is just another stunt from the Greens that will not work.”
Dr Russel Norman: Does he agree that it is important that all New Zealanders, even those like himself who are part of the small minority that supports asset sales, participate in our democracy under this legislation and exercise their right to vote in the referendum?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is up to people whether they wish to participate in an electoral stunt, but I will just say this to the member. This is what I want the member to do. When he is going on the radio and he is on TV, and all the various things he does over the next 3 or 4 weeks, I want him to say this. I want him to say: “I am voting against the asset sales referendum that has been put up.”— fair enough—“I will be voting no.”, or whatever he will be voting, and I want him to say to the New Zealand public: “I deeply apologise for being so arrogant as to ignore you on smacking.”, because
that is what that member did. He was part of the party that drove that. When it was about smacking, he said to the public—
. . . Hon David Cunliffe: What does he think is better value for money: the cost of running the antiasset sales referendum, which is $9 million or thereabouts; the $147 million that he spent on ticket clippers for the fire sale of State assets; or the $1 billion that Treasury says he and Bill English have wasted by the fire-sale rushing this sale of energy companies when the market could not absorb the shares?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, firstly, the member is just plain wrong, actually—
Hon Members: No, he’s not.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —as he was yesterday in question time, even though he does not actually want anyone to go and have a look at what he said—which is about the third or fourth time that he has been wrong, but do not worry, we will keep an eye on that. The Government has actually maximised the return that it got from these assets. It has actually sold them into a strong market. If the member is so in favour of referendums and thinks they should be binding, then he will adhere to the one that saw 81.5 percent of New Zealanders wanting the number of MPs to reduce to 99 and he will support the 87.4 percent of New Zealanders who did not want the smacking legislation. That member, like the Green member, cannot have it both ways. They cannot say: “I’ll ignore the public on the ones I don’t agree with them on, but I want to follow them on the ones I do.”
When Citizen’s Initiated Referenda were introduced the results were not made binding on the government for very good reasons.
One of those is that referenda are very blunt instruments and it’s incredibly difficult to word them so they are not ambiguous.
The current one is a case in point.
It asks if people support the partial sale of state owned assets. People who don’t want any sales at all will answer no, but people who would rather SOEs were sold in full could also answer no.
None of the CIRs that have been held so far has been acted on by the government of the day.
That isn’t an argument for making them binding.
It’s an argument for getting rid of them.
That this one was a politicians’ initiated referendum rather than one driven by citizens is another argument for that.
CIRs have passed their use-by date and should be replaced with a more effective and less costly vehicle for influencing government policy.
#gigatownoamaru is working hard to influence the competition to be the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.
At least 10,000 people have died and many more have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines:
Four million people are thought to have been affected by the massive storm and 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the city of Tacloban in the province of Leyte alone after huge waves swept away coastal villages on Friday.
A United Nations humanitarian official described the scale of damage in the Philippines caused by Haiyan as massive and unprecedented. John Ging said 660,000 people fled their homes because of the storm and the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims.
Devastated communities without food, water and medicines are showing desperation after one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded flattened entire towns and left countless bodies scattered across wastelands.
People in Tacloban woke up to just what they didn’t need on Tuesday – driving rain. With provisions running low, everyone says that food is their main concern.
A BBC correspondent said he saw families straining filthy water through T-shirts to try and remove the dirt and there is a real risk of diseases like dysentery spreading quickly. . . .
It is difficult to grasp the extent of the devastation, the lives lost, many more still at risk, homes destroyed, schools trashed, businesses ruined . . .
With numbers as big as these it is important to remember that each is an individual and that, just as we are seeing in Christchurch, the end of the storm won’t be the end of the problems.
Parliament began yesterday by offering messages of support to the victims.
Before question time in the House this afternoon, Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe both offered their condolences following the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines this week.
“Images we are seeing out of the affected areas are deeply harrowing and I know that all New Zealanders will be moved by them,” Mr Key said.
New Zealand had learned firsthand from the Canterbury earthquakes no country has to face a destructive natural disaster alone, he said.
“The international community always stands ready to help.” . . .
Unfortunately one MP let politics get in the way of the condolences.
In contrast, Dr Norman used his time to read a speech from the head of the Philippines’ delegation to the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.
His speech drew audible groans from the MPs and a number of negative tweets from politicians, including National MP Tau Henare and Labour MP Shane Jones.
After a point of order from co-leader Metiria Turei, Speaker David Carter said Mr Norman had the right to make a speech, “but it would be better if it was delivered without a political message”. . .
This was the wrong time and place for such a message.
Duncan Garner critique’s Prime Minister John Key of the fifth anniversary of his government.
He gives him 7.5/10 and concludes:
Your choice is between John Key and Bill English with a few rag-tag minor right wing parties – or David Cunliffe and Russel Norman – with perhaps Winston Peters in tow.
Who do you trust?
To which a commenter answers:
Let’s not forget his development into a well respected leader in the region as the last APEC conference in Bali showed. And he’s the only Commonwealth leader to ever have been invited to Balmoral – surely that’s worth an extra point
Given all the challenges that have been thrown at Key over the past 5 years, easily a 9.5 out of 10. The answer to your last question is a no-brainer, Cunliffe and Norman in charge is a very scary prospect and when voters enter the booth in November 2014 I think in their hearts they’ll know Key and English are the people to trust. Key to win by a nose next year.
The outcome of next year’s election is very finely balanced.
Labour has more potential coalition partners but it’s still not very strong itself and the prospective of its possible partners in government may well put off more voters who might be considering voting for Labour.
National has fewer potential partners but is stronger itself.
A still weakened Labour with a strong (for a wee party) Green Party plus any or all of New Zealand First, Mana, the Maori Party and possibly Peter Dunne is a much more radical and less stable option than a strong National Party with two or three partners.
#gigatownoamaru is backing itself but welcomes support from anywhere to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first gigatown.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was de facto leader of the opposition while David Shearer led Labour.
Under David Cunliffe the party is lurching to the left, crowding the Greens and leaving them with less of that political oxygen which comes from media exposure.
Trans Tasman makes an interesting observation about this:
For all the sideshows and media circuses around particular policies, people and events, when it comes to elections what really matters most to most voters are the economy, education, health, welfare and security.
The ability to make significant progress in the last three depends on the first.
The economy really does matter most and, as Rob Hosking points out in the print edition of the NBR (not online), economic policy will be crucial in the election and that’s an area of tension for the opposition.
While attention has been on likely tensions between Labour and the Greens, there are also tensions within Labour – tensions between those who kind of get the importance of economic growth and those for whom it is more an academic exercise.
This group is never exactly anti-economic growth; they just view the policies required to produce that growth with a degree of disdain and, by and large, they would rather talk about climate change and taxing things more.
And Mr Parker is definitely from this wing of Labour.
With a preference for talking about climate change and taxing more, that wing has a lot in common with the Greens.
The phalanx of economic spokesperson-ships Mr Cunliffe announced on Monday is not, if labour were to form a government, just there to form a human shield around Beehive photocopiers so Russel Norman doesn’t go berserk with the currency.
It is also to balance out Labour’s own tensions.
A party with internal tensions over economic policy isn’t one best placed to run the economy.
Against this, National will have the known quantity of Mr English, who should be able to offer a return to surplus and, no doubt some election sweeteners (probably on savings and investment policy) and a track record of having got through the worst economic crisis since the 1930s in what is actually quite remarkably good shape.
That is going to be as important a match up as the John Key/David Cunliffe battle.
John Key and Bill English against Davids Cunliffe and Parker with Russel Norman wanting a major role too?
That’s sound economic policy that is working against a lurch to the left that has failed every time it’s been tried.
One of the problems with MMP is that potential coalition partners are competing for the same votes.
Swapping votes with potential partners doesn’t change the likely strength of a coalition but it does make a difference to the strength of each party.
The Green Party has benefited from Labour’s weakness since 2008. Now David Cunliffe has to win that support back:
. . . The Greens, who don’t have any leadership problems, made strong gains during Shearer’s reign and they’ve been grabbing Labour votes.
It isn’t something that’s openly talked about because those two parties are allies and will almost certainly form a coalition government if they win, but one of Cunliffe’s priorities is to neutralise Russel Norman.
“We need the Greens to be strong, but not too strong,” a caucus source told NZ Newswire.
“We don’t intend going into the election bleeding votes on the left.” . . .
Neutralising Norman is necessary for Labour and Rodney Hide explains why it is essential for New Zealand:
He rejects more than 200 years of economic thought, he ignores the lessons of history and he dismisses everyday experience.
His views are neither reasoned nor consistent and he holds to them vehemently and angrily. He can’t argue his position. He can only denounce those who don’t share it. He doesn’t defend his views but rather shouts about them, which is politely regarded as passion.
For Mr Norman, you and I don’t earn income. We take it. It’s us who are the burden. For that reason he despises us. He double despises us because we don’t agree with him. He believes it is our greed that stops us seeing the world his way.
For Mr Norman, government tax simply recovers a little of what we have taken. Rather than a burden, Normanomics would declare tax a recovery. . .
Years of political rhetoric have blinded him to entrepreneurship and the intricacy and subtlety of the social cooperation that markets make possible.
His rhetoric has become his mantra. His politics are his substitute for thought and observation. But, of course, Mr Norman doesn’t need to be right. All he needs is power.
The radical left policies of Norman and his party are unpalatable to moderates in the centre.
If Labour moves left to neutralise Norman he also risks alienating the centre so votes gained on his left flank could be lost from his right.
But then the best way to neutralise Norman and deprive him of power is to stick with a National-led government.
Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman, has been very keen to be Finance Minister and just this week he was also suggesting that he and the party’s other co-leader could share the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
But now he’s saying policy gains are more important than positions.
“What we really want most of all are policy gains – that’s why we got into the business,” says Dr Norman.
“We want a smarter, greener, more compassionate New Zealand, and a smarter, greener, more compassionate government. If we can get those policy gains, that’s the key thing for us.”
But he concedes that those gains will be easier to come by if they can get their MPs appointed to high-ranking positions, such as Minister of Finance or even Deputy Prime Minister.
“Having ministerial positions gives you influence and the ability to get the policy changes that you want, so they’re both on the table,” says Dr Norman. . .
This is the beginning of the Green retreat.
The party has made hay while Labour’s been in the shadows under David Shearer.
But whichever of the three amigos, David Cunliffe, Shane Jones or Grant Robertson, wins the leadership selection, he will be stronger, more articulate and determined to win back the party’s left flank.
The biggest loser from that will be the Green Party and this softening stance from Norman suggests he knows it.
Green co-leader Russel Norman is still hoping to be Finance Minister in a Labour-led government but he’s also got a plan B:
. . . He says another possibility in an arrangement with Labour would be for the Green co-leaders to share the role of deputy prime minister.
Bill English, the current Finance Minister is also Deputy Prime Minister and doing both jobs extremely well.
So well, even the Australians are praising him.
The thought of having one or more Green MPs in either of those positions, undoing the good work the incumbent is doing, is yet another reason to vote National.
John Campbell’s confrontation with John Key on Campbell Live last Wednesday was a wonderful example of how not to do an interview.
Campbell was crusading, confrontational and angry. He made his views on the GCSB Bill blatantly obvious.
This morning Rachel Smalley’s interview (not yet online) with the Prime Minister was a complete contrast.
She was calm, measured, and gave no indication of her views on the issue.
She was after information, not confrontation, and she got it.
That included a repeat of the explanation of what access to metadata will mean under the new law:
Mr Key says the cyber-security function is to “protect” information, rather than accessing content.
He says the GCSB will be able to look at some email metadata, but that will not include addresses, the times emails were sent or received, or their content.
“Essentially it flows through a filter, and as it flows through that filter, it doesn’t record for anything other than a hundredth of a second,” he told media.
Whether or not viewers were reassured by what the PM said will almost certainly depend on their bias.
A lot, though not all, of the opposition to the Bill is politically motivated and Labour has made the mistake of opting for short-term point scoring rather than taking the opportunity to look like a government in waiting.
The wee parties can do what they like knowing they’ll never lead a government but sooner or later Labour will.
It could have looked like it was fit to do so by working with the government to address legitimate concerns about the legislation.
Instead of which it’s just playing me-too to the Green and Mana Parties and New Zealand First with David Shearer just another opposition party leader like Russel Norman, Winston Peters and Hone Harawira.
Prime Minister John Key’s speech to the National Party conference yesterday included a rallying call for next year’s election.
National has a clear plan for New Zealand. We are delivering on that plan, and we are seeing the results.
The fundamental difference between us and the opposition is that we are about doing things, and they are about stopping things.
As we prepare ourselves for the election next year, I can tell you that I’m as fired up to win now, as I first was in 2008. . .
He paid tribute to his deputy and Finance Minister Bill English then listed some of National’s achievements:
Bill has delivered five Budgets – all in tough circumstances. But that’s what growing up in Dipton prepares you for.
Each Budget has laid out further stages in our plan to deliver a brighter future for New Zealand.
Under our plan, we have protected the most vulnerable New Zealanders through difficult times, set a path back to surplus, and built a solid platform for growth.
Under our plan, the economy is growing, wages are rising, the cost of living is well under control and there are 65,000 more jobs in the economy than there were two years ago.
Under our plan, business confidence is the highest it has been since 1999, we are delivering better public services for Kiwi families, and crime rates per capita are at their lowest level in more than 30 years.
Under our plan, we are overhauling a welfare system that is trapping thousands in dependency and giving people more support to get off the benefit.
Under our plan, more kids are getting early childhood education and every child’s going to get breakfast.
Under our plan, more young people are achieving NCEA Level 2, and National Standards are letting parents and schools see how children are really doing in reading, writing, and maths.
And finally, ably led by Gerry Brownlee, we are standing behind the people of Canterbury and supporting the rebuild of our second-biggest city.
These are real achievements, of which we can be very proud.
And I can promise you that through good, sound policy and economic management we will continue to make New Zealand a better place. . .
Former Prime Minister hoped to leave New Zealand no worse off than he found it, and failed.
The current one aims to make it much better and is already succeeding.
This is even more noteworthy when it’s being done in the face of tough financial times and natural disasters.
. . . The Party is in great shape as election year approaches.
We will have to redouble our efforts next year to ensure we keep the hard-won gains New Zealand has made over the past four-and-a-half years.
All of us will have to work extra hard to earn every vote.
Under MMP, all elections are close elections.
And they are not just about National versus Labour, but about the centre-right versus the left.
And it’s clear for everyone to see that Labour has hitched their wagon to the Greens, lurching the opposition to the far left.
Make no mistake, our opposition comes from the far left of politics.
That is a very scary prospect, not only to National supporters but also many swinging voters in the centre and more than a few on the centre left.
It’s important that New Zealanders understand what a Green-dominated government would look like.
They want to tax you more, rack up more debt and make you work two more years before you can retire.
They want a government department to run the entire electricity system, just like it did in the old days when we had blackouts.
They want to stop oil, gas and mineral exploration that would create jobs and growth.
They blame foreigners for all the ills of the country when our future prosperity lies in being open and connected to the rest of the world.
They even characterize businesses relocating jobs from Australia to New Zealand as ‘deeply worrying’.
And they take petty, opportunistic political positions on national security in the face of the obvious need to clarify the GCSB law – a law they passed in the first place!
Well, I can tell you that as Prime Minister, I take the role of our agencies and my responsibilities in terms of national security, very, very seriously.
And I always will.
It’s bad enough for the wee parties to play political games over national security, it is even more stupid for Labour to do so if it wants to be taken seriously as lead party for a government in waiting.
For our part, the National Party has a track record of sensible economic management and policies that actually make a difference to peoples’ lives.
We are guided by the enduring values and principles of the National Party.
They run through the 77 years of our proud history.
We believe in a supportive government but also in personal responsibility.
We understand that businesses large and small create jobs and prosperity in our country.
We believe in supporting people’s hard work and enterprise.
We have tolerance and respect for all New Zealanders and we don’t favour one group over another.
We believe in supporting families – they are the most important institution in our society.
And we have always been the party of home ownership, because we know it provides stability for families, strength for communities, and security for retirement. . .
This message was given to the party faithful at the conference.
But it was of course also aimed at voters.
This is an extraordinarily successful government.
In opening the conference on Saturday, Minister & Nelson MP Nick Smith noted where other parties had been five year into government.
Muldoon was facing internal revolt and external division over the Springbok tour. David Lange was falling out with his Finance Minister Roger Douglas. Jim Bolger faced a similar situation with his Finance Minister Ruth Richardson. Helen Clark was mired in controversy over foreshore and seabed legislation which led to Tariana Turia’s resignation and the formation of the Maori Party.
This government in its fifth year has a united and strongly performing caucus, coherent policy which is making a positive difference, and polls consistently show support at more or less the same level as in the last election.
In spite of that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted.
No party has managed to get 50% of the vote since MMP was introduced and, popular as this government is, it is unrealistic to hope that National could do it next year.
That means we’ll need coalition partners, none of whom are in a particularly strong position at the moment.
The alternative to that on current polling is the Labour Party dependent on the Green Party and at least two others.
That gives voters the option of a centre-right government led by a strong and united National Party or a far-left one led by a weak Labour Party beholden to the Greens.
Anyone not clear on exactly how bad that would be should think about the Finance Ministers.
It’s a choice between Bill English’s steady hands and proven record or Russel Norman who still believes printing money is a viable option.
That’s a choice between leading New Zealand forward or taking it back and a clear choice between the centre right or the far left.
Hone Harawira has been found guilty of failing to comply with police instructions during a protest over state housing last year.
There are similarities between his actions at the protest and those of Green MP Russel Norman in his infamous give me back my flag scuffle in his one-man protest against then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping at the entrance of parliament.
The actions of both men showed they were guilty of not making the transition from protester to MP.
MPs have rights, privileges, means and ways to make their points not available to other citizens.
Norman abused his privilege as an MP in making his protest where he made it.
Harawira apparently forgot he was an MP with the responsibility to uphold the law, or simply didn’t care, in taking his protest to the extent of failing to comply with police instructions.
Both were guilty of making a fuss rather than making a difference as those who make the successful transition from protester to MP can and do.
The Green Party is continuing to spit into the wind with its attempt to get a politician’s initiated referendum on the partial float of a few state owned companies:
P.S. This is our last week to get Keep Our Assets petitions in, so if you have any signatures yet to send, freepost them to me today at:
Russel Norman . . .
Perhaps he wasn’t listening to Question time when Bill English explained the benefits of the policy:
1. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) to the Minister of Finance: What are the advantages of using proceeds from selling minority shareholdings in energy companies to buy new public assets, instead of borrowing that money from overseas lenders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Very significant advantages. In the case of the share sales programme, the Government is swapping one asset—that is, a minority stake in an energy company, which it can only hold and collect dividends—for another asset, which is cash, which it can use for all sorts of purposes. Over the entire programme we expect to free up between $5 billion and $7 billion of cash as a replacement for the asset that we are selling. This will be invested in schools, hospitals, irrigation schemes, the rebuild of Christchurch, and other infrastructure projects. The alternative is to borrow the money from overseas bankers rather than get it from New Zealand savers.
David Bennett: How are proceeds from the share sales programme being allocated to reinvest in other priority public assets? . . .
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has set up the Future Investment Fund. The money going into that fund comes mainly from New Zealand savers who have had the opportunity, and chosen, to invest in large New Zealand companies. The Opposition despises them for this, but we think it is good for the country. The Future Investment Fund will show transparently where that money is going, and it is going to other public assets.
David Bennett: What investments in new public assets has the Government so far confirmed will be made from the Future Investment Fund using proceeds from the share offer programme?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the Opposition has pointed out, it is amazing just how many new public assets you can procure. Last year’s Budget allocated $33.8 million for modernising schools, $250 million towards a KiwiRail Turnaround Plan, $88 million for health sector capital, and $76 million for the new Advanced Technology Institute. This year’s Budget allocated $426 million for the Christchurch and Burwood hospitals, $50 million to speed up the School Network Upgrade Project, $94 million for the 4th year of the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan, $80 million for irrigation projects, $700 million in contingencies for projects such as new schools in Christchurch, Christchurch’s justice and emergency services precinct, and supporting Canterbury’s tertiary institutions to recover from the earthquake. The Government also agreed that over the life of the fund $1 billion will be allocated to other health capital projects. . .
David Bennett: How does New Zealand’s approach to investing in new public assets while limiting extra debt compare with approaches in other countries?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Although some regard this idea as extreme, in fact it is very common around the world. The following OECD countries have Governments that partially own companies that are floated on the stock exchange: Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Japan, Korea, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the Labour Party models itself on Albania, which does not have any of these sorts of companies.
The alternative to selling minority shares in a few state assets are: print more money, borrow more money, tax more or do less.